So you think you’ve got a big job decorating your house for Christmas?
Try decorating the 1.57 million-square-foot Riverchase Galleria.
That was the task given to Glenn Bridges and his crew from the Christmas Décor franchise in Northport.
They had a 26-foot-tall Christmas tree to install and decorate in the Galleria food court, 27 large ornaments to hang from the cavernous ceiling in the mall, about 50 large Christmas sprays to spread throughout the shopping center common areas and six to eight smaller Christmas trees to put up.
Plus, they had to create an area for all the children to come and visit Santa and let him know what’s on their Christmas list.
In all, it took an estimated 260 man-hours to get the job done, said Bridges, owner of the company.
This is the first year that Bridges’ company has handled the Galleria decorating duties alone. Last year, another company started the job but was unable to finish, so Bridges and his crew were brought in to complete it.
The company came highly recommended and did such a professional job last year that the Galleria invited its crew back, said Angela Jacks, marketing manager for the Galleria.
They have the expertise and knowledge to ensure quality installation and storage, Jacks said.
Most people never saw the Christmas Décor team because they did their work at night, after the Galleria closed. But they got the mall almost completely decorated in just two weekends, with the help of a 60-foot-tall lift.
Three people did the heavy jobs with the lift on one weekend, and a crew of eight to 10 people followed up the next weekend, Bridges said.
Christmas decorating isn’t the primary business for Bridges. In fact, the full name of his company is Christmas Décor by Bama Exterminating. Yes, his main business is a pest control company.
Bridges admits pest control and Christmas decorations are an odd mix, but it works well for them, he said.
“The pest control business slows some in the winter months. We were looking for something to keep our guys busy. It just seemed like a perfect fit for us, and it has been,” Bridges said.
Bridges secured a franchise agreement with the national Christmas Décor company in 2008. They started doing only residential work at first but expanded to commercial jobs about five years ago. Business decorating now amounts to about 40 percent of their business, Bridges said.
The company, based in Northport, has grown every year and this year has 125 to 150 decorating jobs in the Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Northport areas, he said.
In 2013, Bridges’ company was named the National Franchise of the Year for Christmas Décor.
“It’s something our employees enjoy and they take personal pride in doing,” Bridges said. “They kind of look at every job like they’re doing their own house. They’re pretty particular about how they do it.”
Installation starts in some places on Oct. 1 and continues until around the week before Christmas, he said. Then, in January, they take everything down.
The Riverchase Galleria is one of the larger jobs they tackle. Others of similar size include decorating several buildings for the city of Clay and decorating an area around an ice skating rink the city of Tuscaloosa puts up at Christmas.
Last year, they started handling the decorations at the St. Vincent’s Hospital campus near downtown Birmingham.
“We’ve really just struggled in the past to get really reliable and quality support with our decorations,” said Diana Scalici, director of support services for the St. Vincent’s downtown Birmingham campus. “These guys have just been wonderful to work with.”
The crew from Christmas Décor cares about getting a job done on time and doing it well, she said.
After taking over last year, “We got feedback that our main lobby had never looked better,” Scalici said. “They just did a knockout job last year. We got numerous comments about how nice and warm the lobby looked.”
The Christmas Décor team started working with St. Vincent’s in July about getting decorations lined up for this season, she said. A lot of the decorations that St. Vincent’s had were purchased years ago and have experienced a lot of wear and tear, she said. The hospital has limited funds for decorations, so Christmas Décor has worked with hospital officials to come up with a plan to slowly update what they have, she said.
“If they felt like our decorations weren’t up to par, they don’t want to put it up because it’s a reflection on them,” she said.
Scalici said St. Vincent’s officials also like that Christmas Décor takes all the decorations down and stores them for the hospital. “I can’t say enough good things about them,” she said.